INDEX: Design To Improve Life by Andrea Dahlen


A Danish-based non profit organization that was established in 2002 to promote design and design processes that improve life. INDEX is a design award which is based on five categories: Body, Home, Work, Play and Community. It is the largest cash prize award in the world worth 500,000 euros.

“Design is the human capacity to shape and make our environments in ways that satisfy our needs and give meaning to our lives.”- John Heskett (Jury member)

“INDEX:  challenges the traditional concepts and stereotypes of design while highlighting the complexity of the design field, demonstrating very different solutions to problems such as HIV/AIDS, scarcity of potable water, and carbon emissions. We inspire, collect, advocate, communicate, evaluate, connect, and discuss Design to Improve Life on a global scale.”

Where and When:

Awarded biennially in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Tools used are

-Large scale public events





To promote design that improves life.

Example of one of the 60 Finalists of INDEX design award for 2011.


Adlens Universal and the Vision for a Nation Program designed fluid filled self-

adjustable eyeglasses to deliver vision correction to developing countries.


“The design allows the power of each lens to be adjusted independently to suit the needs of the user. The low-cost eyeglasses can be fitted by health workers in a matter of minutes and correct up to 85% of refractive errors. Turning the adjuster knob pumps fluid into or out of the lens structure, thereby changing the lens power. Once at the desired power, the user simply seals the lenses and removes the adjusters. The eyeglasses work for distance reading and for computer and mobile phone distances.
The technology could improve the lives of millions of people, who due to cost and availability have no access to eye care specialists.”


“Refractive error – correctable with eyeglasses – is the number one cause of poor vision globally. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, approximately 95% of people who need eyeglasses do not own a pair. Poor vision affects a person’s education, employment, safety and general quality of life and costs globally at least US$100 billion each year in lost productivity. Recent studies suggest that vision correction can have an immediate and dramatic impact, increasing monthly income by over 20%, lengthening careers, substantially lowering traffic accidents and improving educational outcomes. In developing countries, there are two main barriers to achieving vision correction: Accessibility and affordability. There is a severe shortage of eye care specialists and corresponding infrastructure. Where such services and products are available, they are beyond the financial reach of a large portion of the population.”

More than 500 eyeglasses have been dispensed to Rwanda, a country that only has 4 optometrists with a population of nearly 10 million. However, 1.2 million are still in need of eyeglasses.


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